Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Teachers' Corner | HERA Overview  | Using HERA for Spectroscopy  |  

A Black Hole Eats a Snack
Investigation of a Black Hole Transient

Artist's conception of an accreting binary system

Artists conception of a black hole binary system, with the black hole pulling matter from its companion star. (Image credit: ESA)

A black hole has just munched down a snack, and it's your job to figure out what it ate and how fast it ate it. To do this, you are going to look at the only evidence of the black hole's snack – spectrum of X-ray light that it emitted while eating, an X-ray belch if you will. The X-ray data was taken by Suzaku, a Japanese X-ray observatory with NASA participation.

You'll start by reading a little more about the type of object you will be studying and the types of things you'll need to look for in the spectrum to find out what kind of snack the black hole ate. Then you'll look at a spectrum from a black hole binary system called 4U 1630-472. You will fit the spectrum to a series of models in search of the best model. Finally you'll examine your model to connect the best mathimatical model back to the physical Universe.

If you haven't already familiarized yourself with spectroscopy and modeling, go back to the Spectroscopy Introduction page and go over the materials there before continuing on.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index